Marc Chagall - Evening & Day Editions London Wednesday, January 17, 2024 | Phillips
  • Set against the backdrop of Ancient Greece, Longus’ Daphnis and Chloé (2nd century AD) is a timeless pastoral romance filled with drama and sensuality. On the Greek island of Lesbos, the story follows two fated soulmates, a goatherd and shepherdess, on their path to love. The young protagonists face a strew of trials and tribulations along the way, including pirate kidnappings and obstructions at the hands of gods. In the mid-twentieth century, the chronicle’s compelling themes of passion, innocence, and romance, together with the rich Mediterranean setting, were poignantly captured by Marc Chagall in his eponymous collection of 42 lithographs.  

    “In our life, there is a single colour, as on an artist’s palette, which provides the meaning of life and art. It is the colour of love.”
    —Marc Chagall 
    L’hiver depicts the passionate vignette in which the couple reunites after a harsh winter kept them apart. In a snow-covered valley evocative of Chagall’s native Belarus, the lovers stand in the foreground with their bodies pressed closely together as they cherish the moment. Throughout the frosty scene, subtle additions of yellow, blue, pink and purple create a glistening quality that visually encapsulates the emotion of their reuniting embrace. The figures and animals that populate the starry sky create the mystical, dreamlike quality so admired in Chagall’s work. In depicting the beauty and joy of this wintery landscape, Chagall’s L’hiver bares resemblance to Dutch winterscapes, such as those of Hendrick Avercamp, which capture the splendour of winter.


    Hendrick Avercamp, Winter Landscape with Ice Skaters, c. 1608, Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam. Image: Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, Purchased with the support of the Vereniging Rembrandt

    The Daphnis and Chloé lithographic suite was commissioned in 1952 by Stratis Eleftheriades, known as Tériade, the renowned publisher and prominent supporter of Chagall. Following the sudden death of Chagall’s first wife, Bella, in 1944, Chagall was heartbroken – equating his loss of love to his loss of creativity, which was also hindered by the oppression of living in Nazi-occupied France. Chagall accepted the Daphnis and Chloé commission shortly after marrying his second wife, Valentina (Vava) Brodsky. Although he thought he would never love again, the story of Daphnis and Chloé – one of love overcoming trial – inspired him. Chagall and his new wife soon set off on honeymoon to the Mediterranean, making sure to visit Lesbos so that Chagall could begin making extensive pastel and gouache works in preparation for the lithographic series. 

    As well as aiming to capture the emotional intensity of the ancient novel, it was also imperative to Chagall to reproduce the romantic, radiant colour and light found in Mediterranean landscapes. The medium of lithography enabled Chagall to translate his painterly brushstrokes into print form, maintaining the rich colours and fluidity of strokes necessary to evocatively present the narrative. The lithographs were produced over four years, during which time Chagall was also commissioned to design the sets and costumes for the Paris Opera’s production of Maurice Ravel’s 1912 ballet Daphnis et Chloé. With its radiant colours and dynamic forms, Chagall’s lithographic presentation of the story is infused with an equally enchanting musical quality, no doubt influenced by this experience.


    • Provenance

      Private Collection, US
      Masterworks Fine Art, California
      Whitewall Galleries, Nottingham
      Acquired directly from the above by the present owner in 2019

    • Literature

      Fernand Mourlot 333
      Patrick Cramer Books 46

Property from a Private UK Collection


L’hiver (Winter), from Daphnis et Chloé (M. 333, C. Bks. 46)

Lithograph in colours, on Arches paper, with full margins.
I. 42.5 x 32.7 cm (16 3/4 x 12 7/8 in.)
S. 54 x 38.2 cm (21 1/4 x 15 in.)

Signed and numbered 11/60 in pencil (there was also an unsigned edition of 250 without margins), published by Tériade, Paris, framed.

Full Cataloguing

£8,000 - 12,000 

Sold for £15,240

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Rebecca Tooby-Desmond
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Robert Kennan
Head of Editions, Europe

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Senior International Specialist, Editions

Louisa Earl
Associate Specialist, Editions

Evening & Day Editions

London Auction 17 - 18 January 2024